New York Woman Being Charged With “Self-Abortion”


In what may be another case “do it yourself” abortion, a New York woman is being charged with “self-abortion” after a fetus was found in a dumpster.

Via New York Daily News:

Yaribely Almonte, 20, wrapped the fetus in plastic and dumped the girl in a bin outside her building on W. 191st. St., near Wadsworth Ave.

A man sorting recyclables discovered the child’s lifeless body Tuesday, and Almonte was charged Wednesday night.

The police have already named it a crime, saying that under state law a woman can be charged with “self-abortion” if the fetus is more than 24 weeks.  The medical examiner has yet to release a cause of death, but police are pressing charges as Amonte mentioned drinking an herbal tea before the miscarriage.

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  • nycprochoicemd

    This is incredibly disturbing to me.  Will we next arrest women who use drugs, alcohol, or smoke during their pregnancy?  It is still her body, and if she wishes to drink some concoction that could cause the fetus problems that is her right.

     

    That said, I wonder what the real back story is; who knows if the tea had anything to do with it, who knows if she tried to get an abortion earlier and couldn’t, who knows if she was just desperate, who knows if she even wanted an abortion?  Regardless, I am shocked that there is such a law on the books.

  • ljean8080

    for abortions in her state?i think it should be illiegal after 7 months.

  • jennifer-starr

    I think in most states it’s legal up to 24 weeks but that’s beside the point since we don’t even know if  this woman was trying to cause an abortion or what was going on–everything sounds very flimsy to me. And in the ever-growing list of things that pregnant women are supposed to avoid, this is the first time I’ve heard  herbal tea mentioned.  In fact, I was under the impression that herbal tea was safe for pregnant women.  For her to be arrested and charged for that is just plain stupid, frankly.  Perhaps the pro-lifers want to introduce a bill that places pregnant women under 24 hour protective custody to make sure we, the ‘walking incubators’, don’t purposefully or accidentally do something to damage the oh-so-precious zbef?  It seems to be getting to that point. 

  • crowepps

    Actually this case brings up a point of law that’s interesting.

    In Maine, Lorraine Morin recently won her lawsuit against Eastern Maine Medical Center, wherein her cause of action was that doctors who discovered her 16-week fetus had died, concluding that she was in the process of a ‘natural’ spontaneous miscarriage, discharged her to her home an hours’ drive away and told her to ”dispose of” the fetus herself.  Cost was not an issue, as she was fully insured.  The doctors testified that “all miscarriages are sent home” to presumeably “dispose of” the fetal remains wherever.

    http://bangordailynews.com/2010/10/19/news/bangor/jury-deliberating-in-stillborn-fetus-case-in-bangor-court/

    Considering the very high rates of spontaneous miscarriage, it would be very interesting to look into exactly what the law says about this.  During at-home miscarriages I imagine smaller fetuses are likely indistinguishable from and flushed along with the pieces of placenta and blood that women expell.  When I had my miscarriages there wasn’t ever any suggestion that there was a ‘corpse’, but both of mine were handled in the hospital and likely disposed of along with the rest of the medical waste.

    I can certainly understand why a person throwing out their trash would be horrified to find fetal remains, since some people have trouble distinguishing a fetus from an infant, and without in any way suggesting that the solution is imposing some sort of unnecessary funeral or cremation expenses on women, it would certainly be interesting to dig this particular secret out of the deep dark ‘women’s business’  hole in which it has existed heretofore and find out just what people expect women who miscarry to do.

    As to herbal tea, whether it’s safe depends on what herb is involved.  Many ‘herbs’ are also poisons in large amounts, and herbs which can be used safely for medicinal purposes may not be safe for a woman who wants to remain pregnant.  Several safe and commonly used cooking herbs/spices can also cause miscarriages.

  • equalist

    Another question is what happens to a woman experiencing a natural miscarriage at home alone without medical care?  Due to the high rate of low income women who lack access to prenatal care, and the high instance of natural miscarriage and stillbirth, even in seemingly healthy pregnancies, it’s naive to assume that this doesn’t happen.  I’ve never had a miscarriage (at least not that I was aware of), but I have passed a relatively large piece of placenta that was left behind after the birth of my last child at home alone, and the experience was terrifying.  I can only imagine that a micarriage would be even more so, especially without the care of a doctor.  In the case of a very early miscarriage, disposal of the remains isn’t as much of an issue, as they’d most likely be passed into the toilet or onto a pad or tampon.  In the case of a later miscarriage however, especially without medical care, the question of what is the woman to do with the remains comes up.  If a woman can’t afford medical care for her miscarriage, it’s likely she can’t afford an expensive burial or cremation of the remains either, so what is to be done?  Especially when the matter of law comes into play.  While I can’t fault the surprised individual who discovered the remains in the trash, it’s hard to fault the woman who miscarried for her manner of disposal either.  If I were to spontaneously miscarry a mid to later term fetus tomorrow, I wouldn’t have the first idea who to contact to report the remains or what to do with the body.  It’s hard not to imagine that any other woman in this position would be faced with the same dilemma.

  • crowepps

    Googling around, I found a surprising number of articles concerning sewage treatment workers upset by finding fetuses:

    Calgary Water plant “The fetus was 18 weeks into development”

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/story/2008/04/08/fetus-found.html

    Connecticutt

    “Plant employees found the 4-inch-long fetus around 10:30 a.m. on Saturday while sifting through sewage at the Stamford wastewater treatment  … an autopsy determined that it was 14 to 15 weeks old and might have been stillborn.”

    http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Dead-Fetus-Found-at-Sewage-Plant-104267368.html

    Arizona

    “Workers at a temporary headworks at the Roger Road Wastewater Treatment Facility found a fetus, Monday morning, as they were cleaning a filter. …  the fetus might not have been discovered were the normal, automatic system working. … the police have the fetus, and an autopsy will determine its age and sex. The mother might have been early in her second trimester.”

    http://www.kold.com/Global/story.asp?S=1444066

    Fort Lauderdale

    “…male fetus was found in the filtration system … It appeared to be a male, about 3 to 4 inches long, he said. Police are investigating to determine how the fetus got into the system.

    And a really disturbing one from Guam that says that flushing a miscarried fetus is a crime because miscarriages are supposed to be reported to the police department and the women involved could be charged with “abandonment” and “disposal of human remains”.  Part of what I found disturbing was upon investigation the law in question indicates all sorts of reporting and paperwork kicks in at 20 weeks, before the fetus is viable, which means women who have late miscarriages wtih a doctor in attendance have no problem, but poor women who are less likely to have a doctor may be harassed at a very vulnerable time.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvFg8KA9yWI

    I’m seeing indications that in many of the United States 20 weeks is the point where things get complicated as well.  Of course, a late miscarriage is more likely to be one where the doctor tells you to come to the hospital, and where he would take care of this stuff, but I sure didn’t know that before I looked, and I work in the legal field!  None of the miscarriage websites I checked had anything about it.

    I’m tempted to just erase all this, in fear it will get our in-country ProLife hysterics going once again about ‘the sacred unborn’ and their ‘precious widdle fingers and toesies’ but frankly, when I started literally gushing blood, I did what you naturally do and ran for the toilet.  Lots of women do that.  So many women do that the websites about miscarriage on the internet mention fishing things OUT of the toilet to let the doctor check them.  Or just flushing everything away.  This seems to me to another one of those things that’s all secret and mysterious and that nobody wants to talk about because people are so grossed out about it, and that leaves women with no clear instructions about what to do and all the blame.  Just like everything else that’s “women’s stuff”.

  • fourmyle

    …that if this nonsense isn’t curtailed soon, “womb patrol” will eventually surpass traffic related offenses as the most popular revenue stream for counties across the country.

     

    Hell, combine the two! Pull a pregnant woman over for “speeding,” charge her with attempted manslaughter for endangering the fetus.

  • johann7

    And yet another reason that legislating about abortion or miscarriage in any sense at all is really, really stupid. Any line one draws about when it’s okay to end the functioning of a collection of human cells/kill a fetus/kill an infant/kill a person/however one wants to frame it (frequently depending on where one draws that line) is going to be at least somewhat arbitrary; not being attached to another person because that fetus/infant has been born is simply a pretty convenient place to draw the line, especially since issues about the bodily autonomy of the woman/mother are no longer in play after that point. Birth is literally the least-arbitrary point at which to define distinct legal personhood, and irrespective of anyone’s ethical/moral/religious beliefs, it’s the only one that makes sense in terms of writing a law.

     

    P.S. To clarify, I’m saying that because of how the law operates, even if you think that killing a fetus/zygote/blastocyst/ovum after a certain point (e.g. viability, heartbeat, pain sense, fertilization) is WRONG, it’s still a bad idea to make it ILLEGAL. Not everything that’s wrong should or functionally can be illegal. An unrelated example: using epithets for the sole purpose of offending/harming others is wrong, but it should not be illegal because free speech is more important, especially since some people are sometimes offended by things that are important to say.

  • ljean8080

    alive and the mother smothers it?

  • jennifer-starr

    Well, then you’d be talking about infanticide, which is not what’s actually being discussed in this instance. 

  • colleen

    what if the child is born alive and the mother smothers it?

    See, this is why you people need to acknowledge that a 12-24 week old fetus is not a “baby” and not a “child”. That is why we don’t call a mortuary when we miscarry.

  • crowepps

    What if’s are kind of pointless aren’t they?  We’re actually trying to talk about issues in reality.  Baseless suspicions of women who have just suffered a traumatic physical event are cruel, especially when they may be emotionally devastated as well. 

    Are you aware that 1 out of 115 births, in a hospital or birthing center, with a doctor or midwife in attendance, is a stillbirth?  And that quite often it is impossible for anyone to tell what exactly went wrong or why that particular fetus didn’t survive birth?  Are you aware that quite often when a miscarriage happens, the fetus is found to have been already decaying which means it died in utero before the miscarriage started?  Your speculation that a stillbirth means the mother ‘might have’ done something sounds like pure misogyny unless you believe in those other cases the doctor or midwife ‘might have’ done something.

    Reproduction is a chancy business and accounting from fertilization, actually fails more often than it succeeds.  Apparently that’s the way the process is supposed to work in order to naturally discard those conceptions where the error rate is too high, where the pregnancy is unlikely to result in a live, healthy birth, in order to prevent wasting the woman’s substance and energy in attempting to grow nonviable fetuses.  It’s ludicrous to blame women because the natural process is cruel.

    Not that there isn’t a centuries long tradition of doing exactly that.  “The child has a birthmark!  The mother must have wallowed in evil thoughts.  Burn her, burn her!”  Religious extremists will take any excuse they can to revert to human sacrifice.  They apparently just can’t stand the idea that Christ forbade hating, torturing and killing people in His Father’s name.